An Illinois woman has died after being shot during a random drive-by shooting along a Wisconsin interstate while traveling home with her husband and children, federal officials said Tuesday.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration released a statement saying Tracy Czaczkowski, 44, who was shot Sunday, had died. Her husband works for the DEA, but investigators believe the shooting was random and that the suspect had killed another person just hours earlier in suburban Milwaukee.
DEA officials didn’t say when Czaczkowski died. The dental hygienist had been in critical condition at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison since the shooting.
“Tracy was a loving wife of 15 years, a mother of two tender age children, daughter and good friend to all,” the DEA statement said.
The family was returning to their home in Buffalo Grove, a Chicago suburb, after spending the weekend in the resort city of Wisconsin Dells when they passed a Chevrolet Blazer on Interstate 90-94. The Blazer’s driver opened fire on their BMW sedan, hitting Czaczkowski in the neck, according to investigators. Police later stopped the Blazer with a spike strip and shot the driver after he emerged with a gun.
The Dane County Sheriff’s Office identified the suspect Tuesday as Zachary T. Hays, 20, of West Allis, a Milwaukee suburb, and said two of his brothers also were in the SUV. Hays remained hospitalized at the University of Wisconsin Hospital on Tuesday. His condition hasn’t been released.Investigators believe Hays killed Gabriel Sanchez, 42, in West Allis hours before the interstate shooting. Authorities have said officers found Sanchez fatally shot when responding to a report of a man forcing his way into apartments. At the time, police said Hays had also threatened members of a local church.
Hays has not been formally charged in either Sanchez’s or Czaczkowski’s deaths. Phone calls to numbers publicly listed for Hays’ family were either disconnected or rang unanswered, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
Court records show that Hays was found guilty of battery and receiving stolen property in Milwaukee in 2013. He was ordered to serve two years’ probation. His defense attorney in the case, Bridget Krause, said she didn’t remember details about the case.
One of Hays’ brothers, Jeremy Hays, 30, who was in the SUV, was being held on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He has two felonies on his record: for a burglary in 2005, and for escaping custody in 2006, both in Milwaukee.
The sheriff’s office said it opted not to identify the other brother in the Blazer because of his “cognitive disability.”
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